Ever said any of the following to someone looking gloomy?:
- “I hear you’re feeling a bit low, dear?”
- “Chin up, it’s not all bad…”
- “You just need to change your attitude…”
- “I don’t have time to be depressed…”
- “Try to be more positive…”
Even if the other person is just ‘a bit low’, it is usually best to avoid being condescending, righteous or sounding like someone from the British Army levering for a round of croquet. If that other person is clinically depressed, keep in mind – if you did say any of these things – they would head-butt you if they could. But they can’t because they are depressed.
Depression is not the same for everyone.
However, people suffering with depression commonly feel a heavy, oppressive hopelessness. Self-esteem can plummet to the point of feeling completely useless. Memory, appetite, sleep, focus and articulation can all be affected. It may be like sitting at the bottom of a deep hole, having zero energy or motivation to find a way out. Nothing matters. Not even loved ones. When in this state, telling a depressed person to be more positive is akin to telling a someone with a broken leg that their problem is their attitude.
Assisting those with depression
Here are some ideas that may be helpful when helping someone with depression:
- Ensure that the depression is not caused by an undiagnosed illness
e.g. heart disease, a thyroid issue, infection, immunity disorder.
- Give them permission to be depressed
Listen to them, tell them that you are there for them, ask if they want a hug (if appropriate).
- Do daily small tasks for them
e.g. prepare food, wash dishes.
- Help them focus on taking one small step
If they are ready to do something, encourage them to only focus on something small, like tidying a drawer – not on multiple tasks or looking at ‘the big picture’.
- If it has happened before…
Remind them of the times they have made it through this feeling in the past.
Chinese medicine and depression
Research has shown acupuncture may be useful in the treatment symptoms associated with depression in combination with other forms of therapy. In Chinese medicine depression is considered a sign of physical and emotional imbalance. The premise of Chinese Medical philosophy is to create and maintain equilibrium in the individual. We work toward this using acupuncture, Chinese herbs, diet, massage and exercise therapy. This allows a subtle blend of methods to ensure an individual, holistic, and supportive approach to for sustainable recovery.
Depression, if left unchecked…
…has the potential to create more severe and longer lasting symptoms such as poor appetite, fatigue, physical pain, nausea, vomiting, PMT, headaches, insomnia and anxiety to name a few. However, a holistic approach in the treatment of depression can open the doors to greater understanding, personal growth, health and happiness.
Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist
In health practice since 1995
1. Bosch P, van den Noort M, Staudte H, Lim S. Schizophrenia and Depression: A systematic Review of the Effectiveness and the Working Mechanisms Behind Acupuncture. Explore (NY). 2015 Jul-Aug;11(4):281-91.
2. Chan YY, Lo WY, Yang SN, Chen YH, Lin JG. The benefit of combined acupuncture and antidepressant medication for depression: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Affect Disord. 2015 May 1;176:106-17.
3. McDonald J, Janz S. The Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review (Revised edition). © Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd, 2017: http://www.acupuncture.org.au.
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